Tuesday, January 17, 2023

EX475 Update

Its early into 2023, so why am I posting about 15 year old technology? Well its bittersweet, in that I am finally saying good-bye to my HP Mediasmart Servers. They have served (no pun intended) me well, but I have obtained some newer hardware, which I will write about in the future. So before completely powering down these servers for the last time, I want to discuss the final, non documented upgrade I did to them.

Just so as to bring everyone up to speed... In 2008 Hewlett Packard released the "HP Mediasmart Server" line of home computer servers. A collaboration with Microsoft and it's Windows Home Server software to make servers available for the home consumer market, a somewhat failed venture that I believe was years ahead of the market. Regardless of my beliefs, over the years I managed to acquire 3 HP Mediasmart EX475 units, 2 of which are still working, and 1 that I keep around for spare parts. In addition to these I also have a non functioning HP Mediasmart EX485 which I have never gotten around to fixing. Along the same theme I also have a now retired Acer H340.
The problems with these servers, besides the obsolete software and 15 year old hardware, is that the power supply in these units is non standard, and replacement units are hard to come by and expensive (not really worth the investment).
I have already documented all the hardware upgrades I've made to my HP Medismart Servers in previous posts (which can be found following these links. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 ).
As I mentioned earlier, Microsoft developed the Windows Home Server operating system based off their Windows Server 2008 business platform to exist in the home consumer market. Windows Home Server was a great introduction for PC enthusiasts and general consumers to store large amounts of personal data, but it just didn't seem to catch on. In 2011 the second and final installment of Windows Home Server was released. By 2013 Windows Home Server was dead.

While there are many operating systems which will install on the HP Mediasmart Servers (Linux, FreeBSD), for my recent install I decided to try Windows 11 on my HP Mediasmart Servers.  Please be aware if you're going to try this please obtain a VGA adapter, as it makes the installation process so much easier and possible. Also take into account that my servers have been upgraded so your mileage may vary, for those interested in trying this out. One last item to mention, when upgrading the operating system, installing anything other than Microsoft Home Server will cause all notification lights to stop reporting, a function you can no longer use.
I came across a project called PhoenixLiteOS that has a Windows 11 distribution that was stripped down so as to enhance performance, something the EX475 was going to need help with. I was surprised to see that it did in fact install, and it was quite responsive, considering it was running a modern operating system on such old hardware.
In addition to the PhoenixLite Windows installation I also installed Stablebit Drivepool, which is hard drive pooling software with data duplication that I have been using for years. For me it works much better than Microsoft's Storage Spaces. 
The last crucial bit of software I installed was TightVNC, a program which allows you remotely log in and control you server. Seeing as the EX475 runs as a headless unit, this software is a must to setup and maintain your server.
I have been running this setup for a number of months now, and everything works as it should. For those with HP Mediasmart servers still in operation, this might be a way to keep them going for a few more years. 

Also for those wondering, I also attempted this software upgrade on the much more underpowered Acer H340, with success, however while possible...I honestly wouldn't recommend this as a daily driver. While similar in hardware to HP's mediasmart server, Acer's 2GB ram maximum cripples this machine, which becomes abundantly clear when running a more modern operating system.

If you enjoyed this little update, let me know, and I will document my more modern equipment.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

An Update for 2022

My last post was over a year ago, and things weren't looking so good.
Today, I am officially back, but at what capacity I'm not sure. 
Facebook has removed me as administrator of the Mass-IMO Facebook site, so I wont be able to make posts available over there anymore.

I am recovering very well, and I am striving towards having a healthier lifestyle.

I am starting to miss blogging, in that I like the ability to look back at what I've done. 

So I've decided that I will attempt blogging again to document ongoing projects and experiences.

I will try to begin having more routine updates to this blog, however I am unsure what the content will look like.

Going forward, my emphasis will be more on the process of documenting, and no longer concerned with monetization, advertising, reach and numbers.

Send me an email if you have any comments...

Merry Christmas
Happy Holidays
Happy New Year

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Where have I been?

Dear family, friends, and acquaintances:

For those wondering why I haven't been online lately, and haven't been posting to my blog. this is my reason... Four days before our (Nadia and I) 3rd wedding anniversary, on October 2 2021, what was suppose to be a weekend planned celebrating completely changed. While we hadn't planned a huge celebration, what we were looking forward to was an intimate dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Tasty Indian Bistro, in Surrey.

Where we ended up was the emergency room of VGH (Vancouver General), for what I believed was Covid19 related symptoms. You see all week long I had been suffering from mild heart burn and this annoying little cough, which I just couldn't get rid of. We went to the emergency room hoping they would rule out COVID-19, which they did, however their diagnosis was much worse than we had suspected.

When I mentioned COVID to the emergency receptionists, she asked if I was vaccinated, and I responded yes with both doses, and she rolled her eyes and said, then you don't have COVID. I replied, well I need to have someone look at this pain, and I point to my sternum. referring to the heartburn.

I was quickly brought to the ECG station, within moments I had a bunch of wires hooked up to me. This is the point when things took a turn, as I could see panic in the eyes of the doctor/nurse administering the ECG.

I was brought to a private area, asked to strip down and wear a gown, and a whole team of doctors came to see me. I remember thinking that this was a bit much for a case of heartburn, I was informed that my blood pressure needed to be immediately stabilized. And I wondered.. for covid? Well it wasn’t Covid. Some Of you reading might be able to guess what it was... according to the ECG machine I was having a heart attack.

Ok hold up, STOP, wait what!!

I want to go back in time briefly to two days prior. I was working in my garage fixing the bbq when I felt chest pains similar to heart burn, which I dismissed. On a scale of 1-10 , the pain level was maybe a 3. The following day the same situation happened and once again I dismissed it as heart burn. I had been struggling all week with this mild coughing, which I was beginning to think I may have contracted covid (even though I’m double vaccinated).All week, while dealing with this irritating cough, I never once displayed any of the common signs associated with a heart attack.

1. Elephant lying on your chest NOPE

2. Pain that spreads to the arm NOPE

3. Dizzy/Lightheaded NOPE

4. Throat or Jaw pain NOPE

5. Exhausted easily NOPE

6. Sweating NOPE

7. Nausea NOPE

Ok back to turn of events...
Based on my symptoms, the resident cardiac doctors believed I had a blockage in one of my arteries. They immediately insisted I be rushed into an emergency angiogram (A process where ink is injected into the heart and the heart is photographed to determine what the problem may be and how severe it was). Only local anesthetic was used as the doctors inserted the ink dispensing tool through my wrist, up my arm, around my shoulder, along my chest and into my heart. I was then admitted to the cardiac unit, and debriefed on the diagnosis of the angiogram.

The angiogram revealed I would need invasive open heart surgery, a triple bypass, if I were to survive. The bypass surgery would require removing viable veins from my forearm and shin, and replacing my hearts bad arteries in my chest. A cardio team was brought in to discuss next steps and they determined that I was a good candidate for the surgery and that within 24-48 hrs I would be operated on. I was placed on nitroglycerin and was eventually stabilized.

While I was scheduled for surgery within 48hrs, it actually took 4 days before I would go into surgery as it was a long weekend, and I was bumped for more serious patients. 

All went well, according to hospital staff, and a few days after my operation, I was returning home. My recovery will take 6 months, as the bones in my chest need to heal, and to let the scars on my arms and legs heal.

To all I believe this will be my final post, as recovery is making continuing to hard.

Thanks to all

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Echo Dot (3rd Gen) Ceiling Mount


Alexa, play my playlist...

My goal has been to have music easily accessible while hanging out on my front patio. I'm aware of all kinds of stereo's, Bluetooth speakers/devices that could accomplish this, but I wanted something that wasn't tied to my smartphone, as well as something that wouldn't involve a major renovation (my front wall is brick). Now before people start to comment that I could have run stereo speakers in the soffit and into my house, that was already more work than I had planned as the soffit doesn't seem to be removable without using destructive force (I'm not sure how it was installed). I also wanted something that would be relatively permanent, in that I didn't want to have to charge something, or turn it on and off. 

My solution was an echo dot mounted to the soffit, where my echo dot would be sheltered from the elements and provide music upon verbal command. So I turned to the world wide web for solutions, and there are a few great ideas out there. However none that lent itself to my situation, so I borrowed from some and built my own.

Material List

  • Echo Dot (3rd Gen)
  • RC Screw Pins (10-15mm long)
  • 4" Ipex ABS/PVC end cap
  • 1 or 2 Wood Screws
Tools List
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Pencil and Ruler
  • Ladder
  • Allan Key/Phillips Screwdriver
I began by sourcing the parts I needed, Lowes had the 4" End Cap (I don't think it matters if its ABS or PVC). I selected black to match my echo dot, but they also have white. 

I now needed a solution to hold the echo dot, while it's being suspended up-side down. For this I would use Traxxas 5145 Screw Pins (4mmx15mm). I have so many replacement remote control parts for my Traxxas T-Maxx, that this was an obvious choice and they are quite cheap. I would only need 3, so a $5 package would do 2 mounts.
My first step was to draw a + sign on the back of the 4" end cap. Referring to the diagram below, at positions "A","B","C" I would be drilling small holes using a drill bit slightly smaller than the 4mm screw pin (make sure the holes line up to the middle of the echo, when it's sitting inside the end cap). At position "D", I drilled 2 larger holes that I would use to pass the power cable through (and optionally the auxiliary output if needed).
With the echo dot inside the 4"end cap, carefully screw in the 3 screw pins until they clamped the echo dot in place (do not overtighten). You should be able to carefully turn the 4"end cap over, and have the echo dot remain securely in place.
Loosen the 3 screw pins, and remove the echo dot. I drilled 1 hole for the wood screws that will be secured to the ceiling (position "O", you can use 2 screws if you would like). Secure the 4"end cap to the ceiling, now run the power cable through the "D" hole and attach to the echo dot, seat the echo dot into the end cap, then snugly tighten the screw pins, and I was done

When I build stuff, I often forget to document as I get all caught up in the designing and assembling, I need to learn to slow down. With that said I wish I had taken pictures of the process, if I make another one I will better document it.
This project cost me about $10-$15 CDN in parts.

The conclusion... I just love that whenever I go out I can have Alexa play me music. It's been up all summer, and the downward facing buttons allows me to program the echo dot if needed. My only regret is that the soffit is some type of metal and it vibrates with the music and produces a distorted noise. I may be able to dampen the soffit so as to eliminate its resonance, but we will see.

If you have any questions, just ask

Monday, August 23, 2021

Update: Rize Side View Mirrors

About 2 weeks ago I posted about installing side view mirrors on my Rize Liberty. I've had the opportunity to venture out a few times and test them out, and my results are pretty much inline with my predictions. These things suck! No, they are really bad. **Please no one consider buying these**

What makes them so bad...


  • For starters the actual mirror part is curved in a way that distorts whatever image is being viewed, it's also not that clear. While you can still make out if something is passing you, whether that object is an 18 wheeler, a car, or another cyclist you wont be able to make it out.
  • It's made of plastic which is brittle, so they probably wont last long. Also the plastic doesn't grip the bar end very well, and they move quite easily (great when setting up, not so great when riding).

  • Cheap!
  • Nice adjustability, as the mirror moves 360 degrees around, can flip to the right or left, and the bracket also swivels around 360 degrees. 
I have to say these were really disappointing. I had a similar pair, with a round mirror that I had purchased for my scooter. They were purchased on EBay years ago, unfortunately not in my history anymore. I really liked those ones, I'm hoping I can source them again. Anyone have any suggestions for a better pair to try?
Thanks for reading